August 3, 2012
By Michael Lewis
U.S. reaches semi-final with 2-0 win over Kiwis
NEWCASTLE, England -- The United States reached the medal round of the Olympics on Friday.
|Sydney LeRoux sealed the win for the U.S. with her late goal.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
And the sun also rises.
For the fifth time in as many attempts, the Americans qualified for the semifinals, recording a hard-fought 2-0 win over New Zealand, in the quarterfinals at St. James' Park.
In fact, the U.S. has never missed out on the final four in any of the 11 major international women's soccer tournaments since the Women's World Cup began in 1991.
Abby Wambach recorded her 142nd international tally, in the 27th minute and second-half substitute Sydney Le Roux added an insurance goal before 10,441 spectators.
The U.S. will play the winner of Friday's encounter between Great Britain and Canada.
The opening 15 minutes was a back-and-forth affair with each team trying to test the other.
Slowly, but surely the Americans began to assert themselves and take over the match.
Morgan had the first scoring opportunity in the 10th minute as she took a through ball from left back Kelly O'Hara and bolted down the left side. She rounded goalkeeper Jenny Bindon and found herself with a difficult angle from which to shoot, sending her shot just wide of the net.
Megan Rapinoe's right-wing cross set up Abby Wambach on the left side of the penalty area, but the veteran striker could only kick the ball wide left of the target in the 17th minute.
Four minutes later, an onrushing Tobin Heath fired a shot that New Zealand defender Ria Percival almost put into her own goal.
Wambach accidentally clipped Bindon in the head in the 23rd minute while the goalkeeper gathered in through ball.
The U.S. finally broke through in the 27th minute on a brilliant play. Alex Morgan latched onto a through ball from Kelly O'Hara, faked out defender Rebecca Smith. As two other defenders were converged on her, Morgan pin-pointed a pass through the penalty area to a sliding Wambach, who poked the ball past Bindon for her fourth goal in as many matches and 142nd international career goal.
Wambach incurred a yellow card -- her first of the competition -- in the 43rd minute for tackling defender Katie Hoyle hard at midfield. It appeared Hoyle injured her left ankle, but returned to action shortly thereafter.
Morgan continued to push for an insurance goal. She got tangled with Smith in the penalty area in the 48th minute, but referee Jesica di Iorio (Argentina) said to play on.
The striker tried to put away a Rapinoe free kick in the 58th minute, but could only get off a weak shot that Bindon easily saved.
The Americans continued to plug away, but walked away empty handed on several occasions.
Wambach had two more opportunities, heading a Rapinoe corner kick wide left and another head shot straight to Bindon.
Bindon took another knock from an American striker in the 73rd minute when Morgan smashed into her face while going for the ball at the penalty arc. Bindon was given medical attention on the field. Morgan, who fell to the ground, was taken off the field and returned a two minutes later.
Morgan eventually left the game in the 81st minute as she was replaced by Sydney Le Roux.
Apparently trying to test U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo with a long-distance effort, Percival attempted a 40-yard shot the veteran caught in the 77th minute.
Le Roux gave the Americans some much-needed breathing room in the 87th minute. O'Hara fed her a long ball down the left flank. She beat Smith, who fell down in the penalty area before placing an eight-yard shot past Bindon into the net.